Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Political Conservatism among the Self-Employed? Evidence from the World Values Survey

Academic journal article International Journal of Entrepreneurship

Political Conservatism among the Self-Employed? Evidence from the World Values Survey

Article excerpt


An individual's political ideology and voting patterns can be predicted by a number of demographic and sociological factors, such as gender (Kaufmann & Petrocik, 1999; Vaus & McAllister, 1989), age (Truett, 1993), income (Feldman & Johnston, 2014), level of education (Abramowitz & Saunders, 2008) and religious affiliation (Hayes, 1995). Some of these relationships are fairly consistent in the literature. Affiliation with conservative Protestant churches as well as frequent church attendance tend to be associated with conservative political views (Hayes, 1995; Hertel & Hughes, 1987). A positive relationship between income and political conservative views, particularly regarding economic issues, has often been observed (Feldman & Johnston, 2014; Gelman, Shor, Bafumi, & Park, 2007). Furthermore, researchers have examined how personality characteristics, such as extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience predict political views (Perry & Sibley, 2012; Schlenker, Chambers, & Le, 2012). Cognitive explanations have also been explored as well (Amodio, Jost, Master, & Yee, 2007; Kanai, Feilden, Firth, & Rees, 2011).

However, one relationship not explored substantially in the literature is the relationship between self-employment and political ideology. It is sometimes assumed that the self-employed tend to be politically conservative, and this idea is supported from some survey data (Bushey, 2012; Spors, 2014). However, it is not clear if this relationship is confounded by other factors, since the self-employed tend to be demographically different than those who are not self-employed (Shane, 2008). For example, males tend to be disproportionally self-employed as well as being more supportive of right-of-center candidates (Edlund & Pande, 2002; Kaufmann & Petrocik, 1999), at least in the United States. Thus, any observed relationship between self-employment and political conservatism may simply be due to the confounding effect of gender or some other factor. It is also not clear if any relationship between self-employment and political conservatism that may exist in the United States is consistently found in other parts of the world.

This paper explores the following research question: Are the self-employed more politically conservative than their peers who work for someone else? To answer this question, data are used from the World Values Survey, a survey of individuals from a number of countries (World Values Survey Association, 2009). The World Values Survey asks respondents a number of questions about their personal beliefs, including their political beliefs, which makes it an appropriate data source to explore this research question. It also asks various demographic questions which allow for such factors as gender, education, marital status, religiosity, age and income to be controlled for.


Political views can vary among a number of dimensions, and one simple way to break down an individual's political views is to discuss their views with regards to foreign policy, economic, and social issues. Likewise, conservatism (and liberalism) can be broken down into economic conservatism, social conservatism and foreign policy conservatism. This paper will focus on the political conservatism of the self-employed with regards to economic and social issues. Foreign policy views will not be considered in this paper, for several reasons. First of all, within conservative thought, there are very different views regarding what foreign policy conservatism actually is. Conservative foreign policy in the United States can be broken down between several factions with widely different views: Neoconservatives, realists, and isolationists (Rathbun, 2008). Thus, conservative foreign policy ranges from the strong anti- interventionism of the isolationists to supporting military interventionism to spread American principles as advocated by neoconservative thinkers (Kristol & Kagan, 1998; Rathbun, 2008). …

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